Vision Breeds Anger

Recently, my brother and best friend, Josh Via (those who are near and dear simply call him "Fro"), commented on my live blog posting of Perry Noble at the Innovate Church conference. His comment was worth noting and my response is even more worth noting (Just kidding… not really). Anyway, the comment in questions from Noble is highlighted below. Fro's comment and my response are below that.

"Here's how you know you have a vision from God: It will make people mad."

 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

 31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  


Fro's Comment

I'm not sure that anger is the best barometer for measuring vision. Obviously, I wasn't there to hear Perry's talk, but from the context of Scripture, the younger son didn't exactly have a vision from God to begin with, so the anger of the older son doesn't correlate.

My Resonse (This is the part you really want to read!)

I would agree that "vision" never even comes into play in this text. If you kno
w Perry, you know his preaching style: dude is all over the map. So his comment on vision wasn't directly related to the text. It was more of a bonus comment that he made along the way while following a rabbit trail.

I would also agree that anger may not be the "best barometer" for measuring vision. But would definitely say that there is a correlation between God giving you a vision and other people responding in anger. We see it all throughout scripture.

  • Moses wants to lead God's people out of Egypt: even the people of God get angry at Moses (multiple times).
  • Moses, Joshua, and Caleb are ready to take the promised land: the people were angry and ready to stone them…
  • Joseph had a dream from God that made all of his family angry. His brothers were angry enough to kill him.
  • King David's faith made Saul angry.
  • The prophets always had visions from God, and they were always pissing off the powers that be.
  • Daniel preached that it was God's will for the king to surrender to the enemy in order to be saved. The king threw him in prison.
  • Jesus had a vision for drawing together for himself a people redeemed by his blood. His revolution was so counter culture, that religious leaders and political leaders alike were angry at him.
  • The disciples had a vision to reach the lost, and were constantly being killed for it.
  • Paul had a vision that God's church was to include the Gentiles, and pretty much everyone who wasn't a Gentile was angry about it.
  • The early church had a vision for a pure and holy church abstaining from all pagan practices while waiting for the return of the King. The Roman government was angry.
  • Over the next century, there were many "prophets" who had a vision to bring Roman Catholic church back to it's pristine beginnings, and they were hunted and killed for it.
  • Others during the same period had a vision to print the Bible in the language of the people, and they too were hunted and killed for it.
  • The imperial reformers had a vision for church that preached salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and the Roman Catholic church (and government) was angry.
  • The anabaptist reformers wanted to take seriously every word of scripture and questioned infant baptism. The imperial reformers were angry and killed them for it.
  •  Many years later a fresh wind of missionary fervor swept through the world and people like John Wesley, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and many others wanted to reach the world for Jesus Christ, but the stagnant Calvanist powers-that-be were angry.
  • Throughout the years since the Reformation, there have been numerous revivals and "awakenings" across the world. All of them have made many people (even Christians) angry.
  • In the 70's there was a movement among "hippies." They were being unexplainably and irresistibly drawn to this man called Jesus. It made the straight-laced church people angry, and the hippies were marginalized and the movement fell into doctrinal error and disarray. 
  • Today there is a movement of people and churches desperate for an authentic community of faith where they can serve and worship the One True God in their own cultural expression. And never in my life have I seen so many Christians angry about things that don't matter.
  • One more (for all you Baptists): Danny Aiken has a vision to call Southern Baptists back to focus on the Great Commission rather than so many peripheral issues… and already the controversy has begun.

It may not be an exegetical point (though it might be), but I think it is safe to say that a vision from God breeds anger from those who are unable to see God's vision for his people.

  • Josh Via

    My chance to hit back. (just kidding, because that would be completely antithetical to what I’m about to say, and utterly hypocritical–yet, still funny!) I commented on the previous post, but thought I would share again here.
    I definitely agree, Smooth. The biblical accounts to verify your point are almost limitless. Vision can breed anger. Most of the time it does. I guess my point here was to say that you can’t always take the results of an equation and say there’s only 1 formula to get there. For example, if the answer is four, the formula might be 2 + 2. But it may just as well be 3 – 1. Another example: you see a fat guy on the street, and you think, “Sheesh, why doesn’t he stop eating when he’s full?!” And you’d most likely be correct in your assumption. But let’s say that he’s been on chemo for 12 months and he ballooned like the Hindenburg. Then your assumption would be incorrect (and I’d call you a fat jerk! ;)
    Anyway, not to belabor the point, but I think it’s obvious: anger toward a vision doesn’t necessitate that one indeed does have a vision from God. It may indeed be the case. But maybe not.
    A further agenda I have here is to point out a recent phenomenon in evangelicalism that concerns me. My point is that there are a lot of preachers, bloggers and followers of Christ stirring up controversy and making people angry simply for the sake of shock value. There is an arrogance and bulliness that often accompanies these actions. And I’m not sure that honors Christ. We are called to be faithful to the Gospel, and many times it does make people angry. But we have to be careful to distinguish between boldly preaching the essentials of the Gospel without apology, and using our platform (albeit blog or pulpit) as a lynching post to further our own mission and unnecessarily impaling our Christian brothers.
    I think Titus 1:7-9 explains this balance perfectly:
    “An overseer, as God’s manager, must be blameless, not arrogant, not quick tempered … not a bully … but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.”
    I think that’s the balance that’s missing today. Blessings, Your big brother

  • Bobby Thomas

    Thanks for the thoughts to both of you. I’m encouraged. I’ve been seeking the Lord’s direction in how to reach out in a teaching/pastoral way to people around me and all my ideas seem to be getting shot down by people who “know what works around here.” New wine skins are apparently out of production here(sarcasm). It definitely makes me wonder about a lot ministerially…

  • laurie harding

    ok, so i did just scan it
    but i can unequivically say that the guy who reaponded to you was quite legalistic and very into ‘the scripture does not say’.
    problems is, the scripture says lost of things, problem is, we’re too busy recanting what we were TOLD it said, rather than reading it, just reading it, and letting it
    speak to us, and even try to follow what the story line is.
    we do ok at the movies, without having to have explinations on what is happening/ shadings/ meanings
    why do we fail at god’s stories
    and that’s my sermon (can you tell i’ve written a book….seriously) it’s called DESIRE
    smooth, i thought ‘anger ‘ was a wonderful
    def. of vision,
    back to m.chirona –he does this one great
    he’s got the ANGER there.
    thank you for letting me do it